• Published 17th Nov 2014
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Crystal's Wishes - Crystal Wishes

Crystal Wishes thought she was content just writing about ponies falling in love. While her career takes off, her love life is somewhat... lacking. Can she be happy living vicariously through her stories or will she find her own happily ever after?

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In Bocca al Lupo

"'Ey, who's this filly?" one of the older stallions at the table asked, his foreleg around the chocolate-and-cream-colored mare beside him.

Another stallion of a slim and slender build snickered. "Pick up another stray off the streets, eh?"

Papa Pizza laughed loud and proud. "Why, you two, I outta!" He shook a hoof in their direction and laughter broke out across the table. "She isn't a stray! She was lookin' for us!"

"Really?" A mare, who was somewhere between brown and orange with a shock of white mane twisted in a braid, tilted her head. "Who is she?"

Crystal opened her mouth to speak, but Papa Pizza said over her, "Manners, eh? If a pony's at our table that makes 'em family!" He ushered Crystal into a seat and took his at the head of the table. "Now, speakin' of those manners, let's introduce ourselves, a'right?" He offered a smile that threatened to stretch wider than his bushy mustache. "I'm Pizzaiolo, padre to some of these rascals, nonno to most of 'em, and—would you believe it, eh?—bisnonno to that little sleepin' one over in Biscotti's lap."

He pointed at the mare who Crystal could only assume was Biscotti and she smiled. "Oh, he's adora—"

"Let's start there, okay?" Pizzaiolo drummed his hooves on the table. "So, Biscotti is the wife to San Marzono, the son of my eldest, Cheesy Crust. That's the smart mouth saccente over there with 'is sweet wife, Cannoli. The sleepin' foal is my precious pronipote, Breadstick."

Cheesy Crust? Crystal's eyes widened. So, then, this really was her family? A hoof raised to cover her mouth when it fell open at the realization that followed. Her mother's name was a reference to... pizza?!

The stallion who had first spoken waved his free hoof, the other still holding the mare lovingly to his side. "How you doin'?"

Pizzaiolo winked. "Most of my bambini keep it Itailian, you know? 'Cept for Pretzi, hah!" He gestured at the mare with the white braid. "Pretzel Crust, eh, she's probably about your age. Must be somethin' about your generation. Whisperwind is the oddball of the family, no Itailian blood to speak of, if 'e ever spoke."

Laughter broke out across the table while the pegasus sitting at Pretzi's side ducked his head. Pretzi put a comforting hoof on his and offered him a small smile, which he returned, then she glared at her father.

"I—" Whisperwind started to say, but was verbally bowled over.

"You'd think bein' in this family, the colt'd pick up a word or two." Pizzaiolo turned his gaze on the young filly in Pretzi's lap. "But that's all right, 'e treats Pretzi right, and they got sweet little Foccacia to speak for 'im."

Crystal just nodded and did her best to keep track of the ponies. So far, she had two uncles, two aunts, three cousins, and... a cousin once removed?

"Now," Pizzaiolo continued, "back to Cheesy's kids. So we covered San Marzono. Can't skip over Margherita and Marinara. Marge, Mari, give a wave, will ya?"

Two more cousins! A mare of various red hues and another of red, white, and green waved at Crystal. She put on her best smile and waved back with barely enough time to open her mouth when plates wrapped in magic levitated over and onto the table like a gentle rain of food. There were breadsticks, garlic knots, three different types of pasta, a giant bowl of minestrone soup, and an oversized pizza divided into four quarters.

Crystal's eyes went wide as she looked over the spread. "Oh, wow, this—"

"And this will be la mia bellissima moglie, Fior di Latte, Mama Fior." Pizzaiolo inclined his head to smile at the tall, lithe mare who walked into the room with a pitcher of water and a few bottles of wine floating along behind her. "Ciao, amore mio."

"Mi scusi," several voices exclaimed while magic and the occasional hoof went wild, filling up the individual, personal plates from all the serving dishes.

Fior's light red magic pulled the cork out of one of the wine bottles and she started to fill the glasses, her eyes of the same color fixed on Crystal. "And who is our guest? She looks... fame."

A general murmur of consensus went around the room and Crystal found her plate suddenly full of a bit of everything.

"We're getting there, we're getting there," Pizzaiolo said, chuckling softly as he waved his hoof. "Now, who's left, eh?" His gaze sweeping across the table.

Two stallions raised their hooves, the foals in their laps bouncing up and down. One of them, a shocking combination of purple and orange, nearly jumped onto the table as she exclaimed, "Don't forget us, Nonno!"

Pizzaiolo laughed and slapped his knee. "Sì, sì! My other son, Thin Crust."

The slim and slender stallion bobbed his head, the voluminous curls of his mane exaggerating the movement. "And my husband, Flatbread."

"Ciao," the stallion sitting beside Thin Crust smiled. He lifted the filly in his lap and added, "This is Calzone, but we just call her Cal."

"And my name's Deep Dish!" The colt puffed out his chest. His dark brown, almost black mane had a streak of yellow running through it; neither he nor his sister resembled any of the other family members.

Thin Crust gave a knowing smile and winked as he said, "Yes, they're adopted."

Crystal flushed lightly. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sta—"

"But enough about us!" Pizzaiolo clapped his hooves and turned his head toward Crystal. All the eyes in the room followed suit. "Who are you, cara?"

"What?" Crystal blinked, her eyes wide as she looked at all of them. "Wait, what? Why would you give me all of that introductions if you didn't know who I was?"

Cheesy Crust shrugged. "Why wouldn't you get to know a pony you're going to eat with? Or, in this case, sixteen ponies?"

A chorus of giggles and snickers agreed with him.

"But, I—" Crystal furrowed her brow, then tried to smile. She took a breath and said after searching for the right words, "My name is Crystal Wishes, and my mother is Upper Crust."

The whole room seemed to freeze. Not even a crumb fell from a raised breadstick. Every pony just stared at her, save for Pretzi, who tilted her head and asked, "Who's Upper Cru—"

Thin Crust slapped a hoof over her mouth. "Shh," he murmured when she gave a muffled complaint at being forcefully silenced.

Crystal's ears folded back as her aunts, uncles, and cousins started to rise from their chairs and shuffled out of the room. Her heart pounded against her ribs with sudden anxiety. "I-I'm sorry."

The door shut behind the last pony to leave, trapping her with Pizzaiolo and Fior, both of whom were staring at one another with unreadable expressions.

Crystal swallowed. "I—"

"So," Fior started, one brow raised, "is your father Jet Set? Or, by any chance, did she marry somepony else?"

"M-my father is Jet Set, ma'am." Crystal nodded meekly, uncertainly.

"Figlio di puttana," Pizzaiolo spat and folded his forelegs over his chest. "So, then, what do ya want? What are you after?"

"After?" Crystal squeaked. She shook her head and waved her hooves in a hurried, frantic movement. "Nothing! I just, well, she gave me your address, and..." Her ears drooped. "I wanted to meet my grandparents."

Another long, tense moment of silence held them until Fior broke it with a soft laugh. "Would you look at that!" She pushed back a strand of her short-cropped mane that had strayed into her face. "She sent 'er daughter into the mouth of the wolf."

Pizzaiolo leaned back into his seat and drummed his hooves idly on his stomach. "And without a clue, it seems. Guess our figlia 'asn't changed much, eh?"

Pretzi's voice shrieked from the other side of the door, "I have a sister?!"

"Hmm." Fior paused to look at the door with a stern glare, then returned her gaze to Crystal. "I suppose, then, she never told you about her family and why we disowned her."

"No, ma'am." Crystal shook her head.

"Please, call me Nonna." Fior smiled softly. "It's not your fault your mother decided to cast aside her family." She sighed and looked to her husband as she rose to her hooves. "Tesoro, I'm going to scold the children for sitting outside the door like piccole spie."

Pizzaiolo bobbed his head. "Sì, sì." After Fior had left the room and the door shut behind her with the sound of stallions laughing and mares squealing at her arrival, he let out a long sigh and slumped in his seat. "Never thought this day would come." He offered a small smile to Crystal. "I thought when we left Canterlot, that was that."

Crystal twiddled her hooves, trying to not look as nervous as she felt. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have come. I didn't mean to resurface old wounds."

"Old wounds? Ahah! You think we'd be mad at gettin' to meet a pretty little nipotina? It's just a shock, you know? It's been over twenty years since we left Canterlot."

Crystal hesitated a moment before she leaned in toward him and asked, "Could you please tell me what happened?"

Pizzaiolo didn't answer for a while. Instead, he just looked around the dining room, the walls of which featured nigh countless pictures of the family over the years. Crystal followed his gaze and while she waited for him to reply, noted that none of them featured a pony she'd recognize as a younger Upper Crust.

"I moved the family to Canterlot to try expanding the family business," Pizzaiolo said into the silence. "Back when my padre was still Papa Pizza. I was very eager, you know? Too eager. Ready to become Papa Pizza." He sighed and shook his head. "I didn't know a thing about Canterlot. Fior, Cheesy, and I were downright miserable. Canterlot wasn't for us. But I was stubborn, determined to make it work, because I had moved us."

He tilted his head back to look at the ceiling. "We had Upper Crust there. The name seemed funny, you know? Upper Crust. It seemed fitting." His lips curled beneath his mustache into a deep frown. "Too fitting, I guess, because she was... different. Different from Cheesy and from us. Nothin' we ever did was good 'nough for 'er."

Crystal tried not to snort. That sounded familiar.

"When she started goin' to the academy, she got the hots for some colt. Jet Set. The pigliainculo who never worked a day in 'is life. Parents just gave 'im everything. Bet those 'ooves don't got one single mark on 'em!" He sneered, jerked his head to the side, and continued in a bitter mutter, "We tried to talk Uppsy out of it, but she wouldn't listen to a word we said. Told us it was 'er chance for a life we denied 'er and threatened to leave the house."

Pizzaiolo sighed, turning to look at her with a serious expression. "By that time, we'd had Thinsy and Pretzi. Learned our mistake with naming Uppsy the way we did, so we kept 'em closer to the family tradition. They wanted to move back to Chicagoat to be with their nonni, away from the pozzo nero that is Canterlot."

When he paused, Crystal pressed, "And?"

"We told Uppsy to pack 'er things. She refused." He glared at the table of food gone cold. "We told 'er family didn't leave family behind, and definitely not when it meant them livin' a vita di merda. She could've had more. Met a good, 'ard-workin' stallion with sweat on 'is 'ooves, to take care of 'er proper. But she was determined. Told us to leave without 'er, that she didn't want to be part of no 'low class' family."

Crystal could only nod as a strange combination of realization, understanding, and guilt swirled around her chest while too many thoughts buzzed around her head. Did her mother send her in an attempt to open her eyes? To make Crystal understand her side of things? Or was she completely unaware of the similarities between them?

Pizzaiolo shrugged. "So, we left. Told 'er she was on 'er own. If she didn't want to be a part of our family, then we didn't want 'er in it. That was the last we ever saw of 'er."

"But she's—she's your daughter!" Crystal furrowed her brow. "In all these years, you've never tried to find out if she were okay? Never wrote a letter?"

"Why should we make an effort for a pony who never did the same for us?" He glared at her.

"Because..." Crystal's ears drooped and she dropped her gaze to her lap. "Because that's exactly what she said, and it—it just doesn't seem right."

The door creaked open as Fior leaned her cream-colored head in. "Did she really?"

Crystal jolted upright and looked over at her grandmother. "Yes, ma'a—Nohn-na," she corrected with careful enunciation, testing the word before she smiled. "She told me not to come because you two had never done anything for me."

"Well, how could we!" Fior huffed. "She never told us we had a granddughter!"

A few heads poked around the door to peer at her. "So you're Uppsy's daughter?" Cheesy asked. "She still with that cazz—"

Pizzaiolo raised a hoof. "We already covered that, Cheesy. Time we thought about letting it go, eh?" He smiled at Crystal while all the ponies wandered back to their seats. "So, let's try this again. Tell us about yourself, will ya, cara?"

All eyes were on her and she shifted in her seat. "Well, to reiterate, my name is Crystal Wishes. I'm a—well, I'm a—" She held her breath. She had to get used to owning up to who she was if she planned to go through with revealing her identity someday. "I'm an author. A romance novelist, to be specific, actually."

Whisperwind's ears perked. "What—"

"That so?" Pizzaiolo grinned, leaning in toward her, as did the rest of the ponies at the table. "Like what? What've ya written?"

Heat rose to the tips of her ears. "I-I just released my third novel, Her Silent Love." Murmuring went around the table and she waved her hooves. "Any-anyway, I live in Canterlot, as do my parents, Upper Crust and Jet Set."

"'As do'?" Fior raised her brow. "Not 'with'?"

"No, Nonna." Crystal bit her lower lip. "I moved out to live with my best friend, Velvet Step." Another moment of hesitation as she felt the weight of all sixteen stares boring into her. "I suppose I can empathize with the less than positive feelings toward her in that as soon as an opportunity arose to move out, I took it."

Pizzaiolo was the first to laugh, followed by a soft chuckle from Fior and Cheesy's snicker. Pretzi leaned forward and asked, "Why is that so funny? I don't get the joke. Is she really that bad?"

Everypony seemed to wait for Crystal to answer. She sucked in a breath and cautiously explained, "She is a... very particular mare. My whole life she's tried to force me to follow in her hoofsteps." She glanced at Pizzaiolo and Fior—a familiar story. She shifted and continued, "I've resented her for most of it, but we've recently come to a bit of a neutral ground after we fought about my fiancé." Another familiar story.

It was all unsettlingly familiar. A heavy sense of empathy clouded her thoughts as they drifted over all the memories of growing up.

Flatbread's grin was poorly hidden by a hoof. "I was wondering if that ring was for décor... or somethin' more." He laughed when Thin Crust elbowed him in the side. "What? I was!"

Crystal went crosseyed trying to look at her own horn. "Oh, yes, I suppose that is actually why I came here." Her gaze wandered the faces at the table. "My wedding is in three months and I would absolutely love it if you all were there."

"Eh?" Pizzaiolo's smile fell. "You're invitin' us to your wedding? All of us? Ya sure about that, cara?"

"Absolutely!" Crystal puffed her chest with renewed vigor. "Family is family! Don't you agree?" She winked.

Boisterous laughter broke out again and Cheesy waggled a hoof at his father. "She's got ya there, Papa!" He grinned at Crystal. "Oh, you'll fit right in, I can tell."

Pizzaiolo chuckled, shaking his head. "We'll see, we'll see. Not gonna make any promises." He gazed at Crystal with a soft fondness in his eyes. "Tell me, 'ow did a nice, polite mare like you survive livin' in Canterlot ya whole life without gettin' chewed up?"

Crystal paused. She blinked a few times and opened her mouth to reply, but words failed her for a moment. After thinking it over, her lips curled into a smile and she started, "It's simple, actually, I suppose. I would have to thank my mother. She prepared me from a very young age to survive the best and the worst that Canterlot has to offer..."

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